Bill on Uniform System of School Education Passed

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Bill on Uniform System of School Education Passed

The State government on Monday enacted a law to bring in a uniform system of school education, amid Opposition demands that the law be enacted only after the “loopholes” are plugged.

School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu made it clear that the government had framed the Bill keeping in mind the various Supreme Court rulings.

The law was historic since it was for the first time that private schools were being brought under the ambit of penalties if they contravened rules and regulations under the Act.

Pressing his cut motions, former Education Minister C.V.Shanmugham (AIADMK) said that a reading of the Bill indicated that it was drafted in undue haste.

It had many provisions that seemed to placate the Matriculation stream schools, he said, adding that as much as 40 per cent of the syllabus favoured students learning in the English medium.

He said Section 4 and Section 11 had serious anomalies and these had to be set right before the Bill was passed.

Section 4 says that “all the subjects, other than languages, may be taught in Tamil or English or in any other language as may be decided by a school with the approval of the competent authority.” Mr.Shanmugham said that this meant that the government was not serious about the two language formula; it was providing space for Hindi to be imposed on Tamils. Section 11 details the penalties “if any person wilfully contravenes the provisions of the Act or any rules.”

“He shall be punishable with fine which may extend up to Rs.25,000 and in the case of continuing contravention, with an additional fine which may extend up to Rs.1,000 for every day during which such contravention continues after conviction for the first such contravention.” Mr.Shanmugham criticised the punishment as “too light.”

C.Mahendran (CPI-M) pointed out that though the Muthukumaran Committee Report was tabled in the House, it was never debated.

The recommendations of former IAS officer Vijayakumar on the implementation part were neither placed in the House nor were the members aware how many of his recommendations were accepted.

The Bill did not address the whole issue of social justice, its professed aim. There still was no definition for the term “school” – which explained the many make-shift shanties that doubled up as schools. The composition of the Board under the provisions of the Bill also left a lot to be desired.

G.K.Mani (PMK) said the PMK welcomed the concept but wanted the full the implementation of the Committee Report.

Mr.Thennnarsu said that there was no change in the policy laid down by the DMK. He recalled that Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi, on January 1, 1968, had spoken at length about the NEED for a two-language formula – Tamil and English – and added that this remained the basis of all policies framed by the School Education department.

The Criticism that the punishment was too light was baseless since this was the first time that the government had attempted anything of this nature, he added.

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